St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner accused of being incompetent as violent crime skyrockets, criminals walk free

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ST LOUIS, MO – With St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner having accumulated a laundry list of controversies pertaining to her public position, reports are surfacing that are speculating if she is incompetent.  

With her perceived “lax” approach toward prosecuting crime and some botched endeavors, it was only a matter of time before intellectual aptitude became a topic of speculation.

Part of the questioning of competence with regard to Gardner is her tendency to drop cases brought before her office. According to reports, Gardner’s office has dismissed 34% of all felony cases disposed in 2021, which was down from 36% in 2020.

In 2019, Gardner’s office dismissed 32% of cases, 23% of cases in 2018 and 15% of cases in 2017. To put matters into perspective, before Gardner took office, the yearly share of dismissed felony cases ranged from 10% to 15%.

But therein lies another matter – turnover rates for prosecutors in Gardner’s office. Reports shows that over 90 prosecutors have left her office since Gardner’s first term began in 2017 – which serves as a turnover rate that exceeds 100% in the Circuit Attorney’s Office.

Needless to say, a turnover rate exceeding 100% in a four-year period is a concerning benchmark, regardless the vertical in question.

St. Louis-based news outlet Fox 2’s legal expert Attorney Chet Pleban is also alarmed over the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office under Gardner’s leadership.   

Pleban, who has been working on various cases with the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office since the 1970s, stated that he’s never seen anything quite like these recent snafus afflicting the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office in all of his time as an attorney:

“Clearly there is a problem with her internal management system that needs a quick fix, someway, somehow. But it is inexcusable that you would have three continuances, three times that she doesn’t show up for a murder case.”

When discussing the over 90 prosecutors leaving the circuit attorney’s office since Gardner took over in 2017, Pleban stated:

“Some of those were career prosecutors and they had spent their lives prosecuting murder cases, they leave the office, you replace those with younger inexperienced lawyers. The inexperience of that particular individual is going to be a problem with getting a conviction.”

“I don’t know what the problem is with people leaving that office, career prosecutors. So you’ve got to fix it with competent people coming in to replace the people that left. Don’t know how she’s going to do that.”

But the concerns run deeper than merely turnover rates and dropped cases, as there is also the issue of botched cases and proceedings.

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As we previously reported here at Law Enforcement Today, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office made headlines over assigning cases to an attorney that was on maternity leave – literally weeks after she was on leave.

Here’s that previous report.

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ST LOUIS, MO – According to reports, St. Louis’ lead homicide prosecutor resigned from her position earlier in July after her digital signature was found on several court documents after she went on maternity leave back in May.

Prosecutor Kim Arshi reportedly began her maternity leave on May 10th, yet her electronic signature has appeared on over 20 cases after her leave began in various court documents that listed her as the lead prosecutor.

On July 20th, Arshi reportedly resigned, but hasn’t publicly commented on the matter, nor has St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office.

One of the cases that Arshi was listed as the lead prosecutor – while she was on maternity leave – resulted in St. Louis Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser dismissing a murder case against a defendant identified as Brandon Campbell.

The reason being, according to reports, was because prosecutors from Gardner’s office failed to appear at multiple hearings related to the case. In that case, Campbell was accused of fatally shooting Randy Moore back in April of 2020.

Since the case was dismissed against Campbell, he was released from custody. While Gardner’s office reportedly re-filed the murder case against Campbell, he’s currently at-large.

Judge Sengheiser had zero quarrels laying the blame on Gardner’s office, saying that had she had her proverbial house in order, Campbell wouldn’t have been released:

“The Circuit Attorney’s Office is ultimately the party responsible for protecting public safety by charging and then prosecuting those it believes commit crimes.”

“In a case like this where the Circuit Attorney’s office has essentially abandoned its duty to prosecute those it charges with crimes, the court must impartially enforce the law and any resultant threat to public safety is the responsibility of the Circuit Attorney’s Office.”

Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner did issue a statement regarding Campbell’s release due to her office’s inability to send prosecutors that aren’t on leave to scheduled hearings, blaming the incident on “internal policies and procedures regarding family medical leave” and that “corrective measures are needed to further prevent any future repeat occurrence of the incident in question.”

Court records show that Gardner’s office assigned Campbell’s case to Arshi on May 17th, a week after she’d already been on maternity leave.

While Gardner says that she’s “accountable to the public for the actions of the office”, she has yet to elaborate on what exact “internal policies and procedures” could possibly result in an assistant prosecutor on leave being assigned nearly 30 criminal cases while she’s not in office.

The victim’s mother in Campbell’s case, who didn’t want to be identified for fear that her son’s alleged killer will target her, said that Gardner’s mishandling of the case is “miserable”:

“It’s miserable. I feel like it just happened yesterday, just pain, just coming back. To think about somebody who took your son’s life and he’s out of jail. That’s horrifying. We’re living in fear.”

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Back in May, we at Law Enforcement Today also shared a report of pending misconduct allegations Gardner is facing. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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ST LOUIS, MO – According to a recent court filing, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is alleged of engaging in dozens of instances of professional misconduct – primarily revolving around a 2018 investigation into former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

If these misconduct allegations turn out to be true, Gardner could very well lose her law license and effectively be removed from office as a result.

Reportedly, there was a 73-page court filing alleging “more than 50 rule violations,” lodged against Gardner that allegedly occurred during the 2018 investigation and eventual botched prosecution attempt of former Governor Greitens.

The allegations within this court filing are pretty severe, proclaiming that Gardner engaged in practices where she “delivered false statements,” and failed “to disclose evidence,” between the months of March and April of 2018 with respect to the aforementioned investigation.

The allegations contained within the filing came following an investigation into Gardner by the state’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel – which Chief Disciplinary Counsel Alan Pratzel proclaims that there’s ample probable cause that Gardner committed professional misconduct.

Records show that Gardner is slated to stand before a disciplinary hearing panel regarding these alleged instances of professional misconduct.

However, the date of said hearing is unclear as of this time. 

St. Louis University School of Law Professor John Ammann commented on the severity of these accusations against Gardner, referring to them as “very serious,” and that any lawyer faced with the gravity of misconduct alleged would be rightfully worried.

As mentioned earlier, these misconduct allegations against Gardner stem from the investigation and indictment of former Governor Greitens, where he was indicted under charges of felony invasion of privacy charges relating to an extramarital affair dating back to 2015.

The basis of said charge revolved around the former governor allegedly taking illicit photos of his then-paramour and threatened to blackmail the woman if she ever spoke of the extramarital affair.

The initial indictment against Greitens came in February of 2018 and all charges related to the matter were dropped by the prosecutor’s office by May of that same year.

Reportedly, prosecutors were unable to locate evidence of any such illicit photos existing, which is what prompted the dismissal of the charges.

Following the dismissal of charges, Greitens’ lawyers filed a police report in May of 2018 that alleged the former lead investigator for the Circuit Attorney’s Office of committing perjury relating to the criminal proceedings against Greitens.

That former lead investigator, William Tisaby, has since been indicted for multiple counts of felony perjury.

Moving back to the allegations against Gardner, she has since responded to the alleged misconduct, denying that she willfully engaged in any sort of practices.

The attorney representing Gardner, Michael Downey, proclaims that Gardner should not be sanctioned for any alleged misconduct for numerous reasons – going so far as to say that even if minor mistakes were made by Gardner during the proceedings against Greitens, those mistakes “were not deliberate, they did not undermine justice and they did not deny the defendant a fair trial.”

Gardner’s counsel further alleges that these misconduct allegations are merely “another attempt by Ms. Gardner’s political enemies – largely from outside St. Louis – to remove Ms. Gardner and thwart the systemic reforms she champions.”

Reportedly, court filings show that Gardner had asked the courts that these proceedings against her be sealed from the public purview, but said request was reportedly denied.

J. Bradley Young with Harris, Dowell, Fisher & Young L.C. commented on the case, saying that this matter is going to result in one of three outcomes for Gardner:

“The Missouri Supreme Court would have the option to either sanction Ms. Gardner, they could also suspend her bar license, they could revoke her bar license or, if they found that Kim Garnder did not engage in any ethical misconduct, the charges could be dismissed.”

According to Young, if this investigation winds up resulting in Gardner’s law license being suspended or revoked, she would effectively be removed from office and the state governor would have to appoint someone to take over her role.

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